Legend Alf is honoured

A Ripley family has spoken of their pride as a leisure centre sports hall was named after a local footballing hero.

On Saturday a host of dignitaries from around the area attended Ripley Leisure Centre to see a plaque unveiled there in honour of the late Alf Strange.

Ripley-born Alf died in 1978 after a successful football career, which saw him captain England for a spell.

He scored 63 goals in 382 appearances for four clubs and was capped 20 times for England in his 24-year playing from 1922 to 1936.

Alf started his playing career with the Marehay Colliery team, where he was spotted by scouts from Portsmouth, for whom he signed as a professional in December 1922 as a centre forward. But making the switch to a right-back position proved key to his game.

A successful spell at Sheffield Wednesday saw Alf take the football league title twice in two seasons between 1928 and 1931.

A meeting room in the previous Ripley Leisure Centre had been named in his honour following his death in 1978 and calls from the public and local councillors prompted the move to rename Ripley Leisure Centre’s new sports hall in his honour.

It was a proud moment for one of Alf’s five grandchildren Dawn, 47, ofYardley Close, Swanwick. She was just 14 when the local footballer died.

However, she said his status as one of the finest players ever to come from the Ripley and Heanor has lived on.

She said: “People from a slightly older generation than myself certainly know of Alf’s career.

“The sports hall dedication will keep the legacy in people’s minds for much longer – they will always ask ‘who was that?”

After retiring from football, Alf settled back in his home town of Ripley where he took a rather different direction as a poultry farmer.